A little boy found dead at his family home had been locked in a wardrobe and sedated with sleep aids by his mother for three years, it has emerged.
Yonatan Daniel Aguilar, 11, vanished in Los Angeles in 2013.
His mother, Veronica Aguilar, claimed he has been sent to live at an institution in Mexico, court records show.
Only the 39-year-old’s three older children knew that their brother was locked inside a wardrobe just feet from their bed.
They told police they were forbidden by their mother from telling anyone.
Even Yonatan’s stepfather, Jose Pinzon, was apparently unaware that the youngster was inside the house the entire time.
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The child, who is believed to have been autistic, was found dead at the home in the Echo Park neighbourhood in August.
Police found his malnourished body inside a tiny closet covered in pressure sores from the tiled floor.
The boy, who weighed less than two-and-a-half stone, was surrounded by cups of liquid medicine.
Court documents, obtained by the Los Angeles Times, show Aguilar kept her sedated with a sleep-inducing syrup.
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The mother was never investigated by police, social workers or school officials, despite previous allegations of abuse.
Aguilar is believed to have told Pinzon that Yonatan had died on August 22, before leading him to the wardrobe where he found the boy’s body.
Pinzon reportedly ran to a nearby convenience store to alert police.
Aguilar was arrested and has pleaded not guilty to murder.